bridge of the enterprise: Just About Enough

As a consultant, I work in many varied environments. The one common denominator is that all of them are graphical client server implementations. These clients run different operating systems, database engines and hardware platforms.

For the most part, clients in these environments have sophisticated information technology professionals on staff who realize the complexity of the environments in which we work. These people realize that no one person has all the answers and are usually willing to work together to uncover the "best practices" and utilize the best features of the desktops, servers, network, applications, operating systems and tools. This is often the situation, and it provides for an excellent working environment and, more often than not, a better final solution.

The people that I have just described are, by every definition of the word, professionals. Unfortunately, not all the people I come in contact with and have to work with fit this description.

Not long ago I wrote a column called "Enough of All of These Platform Bigots" and received a number of positive e-mails on its content. These people (the bigots) continue to get on my nerves to the point that I wonder why they are employed. When someone is introduced to a new environment, consisting of tools and features this person has never seen, does it not behoove them to learn something of the environment and tools prior to making blanket statements? Statements like the tools are not capable of providing the desired solution, or they are simply inadequate. Frankly, I have had just about enough of Oracle DBA's who have "Oracle religion," but little or no knowledge about any other database or tool or application. These people espouse Oracle's superiority and have nary an idea what is in the rest of the world. How can they make statements or assumptions like that without any prior knowledge of the other software? They may be correct, but how could they know?

This problem is not limited to Oracle experts, and I am certainly not suggesting that all Oracle experts fit this description. Oracle provides excellent products, and there are many fine professionals that work with it. But a product as sophisticated and complicated as Oracle's Data Base draws more than its fair share of pocket protector-wearin', techno-dweebs with attitudes. This type of behavior usually rests with the technical people who are so immersed in the details of the technology that they cannot see the forest through the trees. A great example is the "Access Programmer" who is certain that MS Access is the cure to all of the world's ills. I would like to see this person make Access handle sales order processing for a multinational corporation with 200 telephone operators needing access to the same inventory, A/R and order processing simultaneously. Of course Access cannot do that, but try to tell this to an Access bigot!

The time has come for this abhorrent and ignorant behavior to stop. The industry we work in moves far too fast and requires that many people must rely on the knowledge and experience of others to provide a solution. Anyone not willing to realize this fact and work with the rest of the team should quickly realize the wonders of unemployment.

I, for one, have no time for these folks. While I am sure they know the products they are so proud of, they need to take the time and LISTEN. The most intelligent person I ever met was also one of the quietest. He would carefully listen to what all parties had to say, measure what he heard, formulate and organize his thoughts and provide an answer. This is obviously the far extreme from the folks that I have described, but there must be a middle ground. There must be some give and take. There must be some openness to explore, learn and improve oneself and the organization for which one works.

A veteran of the IBM midrange arena since 1983, Chris Gloede is executive VP for Business Solutions Group in Wayne, Pa.